Key WHO publications: Policy and programmes

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has created several key research reports, tools and manuals that are of great importance and steer the international, national and local work on the prevention of suicide and mental ill-health. On this page we have listed some of the key documents and the links to the document and relevant web pages.

WHO: Mental Health

Preventing suicide: A global imperative 

On September 5th 2014 the World Health Organization's first report on suicide prevention, "Preventing suicide: A global imperative", was launched as part of the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 which was adopted by the World Health Organization in 2013. The report aims to highlight suicide problems but also to present evidence-based suicide prevention strategies and practical public health-based suicide prevention measures for policymakers and politicians around the world. NASP, as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Research, Methods Development and Training in Suicide Prevention, was responsible for the chapter "Risk and protective factors, and related interventions".

Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020

WHO's comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 was adopted by the 66th World Health Assembly. The action plan is the outcome of extensive global and regional consultations over the last year with a broad array of stakeholders including: 135 Member States; 60 WHO CCs and other academic centres; 76 NGOs and 17 other stakeholders and experts.

Primary care

Readers will find out how providing mental health care into primary health care settings produces better health outcomes. Primary care for mental health is affordable, and investments can bring important benefits.

This manual attempts to provide simple, adequate and evidence-based information to health care professionals in primary health care especially in low- and middle-income countries to be able to provide pharmacological treatment to persons with mental disorders.

mhGAP is the WHO action plan to scale up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for countries especially with low and lower middle incomes. The priority conditions addressed by mhGAP are: depression, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, suicide, epilepsy, dementia, disorders due to use of alcohol, disorders due to use of illicit drugs, and mental disorders in children. The mhGAP package consists of interventions for prevention and management for each of these priority conditions.

Secondary care

Initiated by WHO; these Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines enable humanitarian actors to plan, establish and coordinate a set of minimum multi-sectoral responses to protect and improve people's mental health and psychosocial well-being in the midst of an emergency.

  • WHO RESOURCE BOOK on Mental Health, Human rights and Legislation: Stop exclusion, dare to care. 2005

A variety of individuals, organizations and government departments are likely to find this Resource Book useful. More specifically, it is aimed at those directly involved in drafting or amending mental-health-related legislation, as well as those responsible for guiding the law through the adoption and implementation process.

The package consists of a series of interrelated user-friendly modules that are designed to address the wide variety of needs and priorities in policy development and service planning. The topic of each module represents a core aspect of mental health.


Manual for people working with children in school, health care, in the communities etc. Easily accessible information on different mental health topics like sadness, depression and anxiety. Contains drawings and personal stories from children in the WHO contest.


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